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Monday, February 23, 2015

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You Have Options: Looking Beyond WWE

By True (@TrueGodImmortal)

And these aren't the only ones.
Good day, folks. As you know, we are currently on the Road To WrestleMania. Usually this time of year, I'm all in for WrestleMania, excited about the card, the build, etc. However, as I explained in an earlier article titled "Losing The Mania of WrestleMania", I don't feel that way this year--and haven't for quite some time. Fast Lane, an unnecessary PPV that replaced the fun and enjoyable Elimination Chamber, just took place and to say I'm a tad apathetic about the WrestleMania direction is an understatement. WWE, has benefited from not having a strong national competitor on the mainstream for wrestling (or "sports-entertainment"). However, just because WWE has no competition on the "mainstream" level, that doesn't mean that you have no other options. Without dwelling on the WWE and their mediocre product too long, let us take a look at some of your other options.

Ring of Honor:
ROH is getting ready to celebrate their 13th anniversary. In my opinion, despite a lackluster TV deal, they are the number two professional wrestling company in the United States. ROH relies heavily on strong style wrestling, with an emphasis on technical prowess and high flying. With former WWE stars like Alberto El Patron (f/k/a Del Rio) in the fold, big name guys like AJ Styles and Michael Elgin, and rising stars such as ACH and Cedric Alexander, ROH provides you with all the in ring entertainment minus the fluff and bullshit. If you're looking for other options, this is the first place I'd suggest starting. (Ed. Note: Also, be sure to check out Nathan's ROH Reviews)

TNA (Impact Wrestling):
I am not a fan of TNA personally, never have been. While they do have a decent TV deal now and had a great one previously, they remind me a bit of WWE, with an out of touch, delusional person running the show(though Vince might not be nearly as lost as Dixie Carter). Be that as it may, TNA does have some great talent on that roster, with former WWE stars Kurt Angle, MVP and Bobby Lashley in the fold, amazing performers like Austin Aries and Bobby Roode, along with the always fun X-Division. While TNA is no longer seen as the clear number 2 company in North America, it still holds strong and has a loyal fan base. Unfortunately, they did just lose one of their veterans, Samoa Joe, as he decided to go elsewhere. They've lost quite a few big names over the last 2 years, but regardless, TNA still has the roster equipped for putting on a good show.

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW):
For some, NJPW is the best thing going in wrestling today. With the Bullet Club being as over as it is and breathtaking matches at every event, NJPW is staking its claim with the wrestling fans in the US and all around the world, as well as in Japan. NJPW has been around for many years, even having supershows in the past with WCW back in the '90s. Today, names like Nakamura, Tanahashi, Shibata, Nagata, and more bring the pain inside that NJPW ring. You may see legends such as Jushin Liger, The Great Muta, and more in that ring or some of the best indie performers from the US there such as AJ Styles, Doc Gallows, and The Young Bucks, to name a few. NJPW has a solid system, smart booking, and knows how to please their fans. If you're not watching WWE, I'd suggest as NJPW as your next option right after ROH.

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG):
PWG has been around for years. So many names have come through that place, that its legacy is forever legendary. From El Generico (Sami Zayn), to Kevin Steen (Kevin Owens), Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan), CM Punk, Samoa Joe,and others, damn near anyone who has a name in this era of the business, has been through PWG. They run amazing events, usually monthly or bimonthly, and the physical high impact style that they infuse is beyond entertaining. Their DVD sales are usually through the roof, and they continue to give the people what they want to see (what a concept, Vince). Check out their website or Highspots and experience the magic yourself.

Lucha Underground:
I recently got into Lucha Underground after catching a little bit of their TV show on the El Ray Network. This show is paced much differently than the WWE, TNA, or really any wrestling show for that matter. They've given great wrestlers some new fun gimmicks to work under, also brought in Alberto El Patron, and put on great matches every event. Lucha Underground and their style might appeal more to the hardcore fan instead of the casual fan, but considering the casual fan's enjoyment of high flying, risk taking action on WWE, I doubt they'd have a big issue adjusting here. Be on the lookout for Lucha Underground, as they strive to bring us the best. 

SHIMMER and Shine are both female promotions that highlight the best and rising women wrestlers in the business. Mia Yim, Su Yung, Ivelisse, Leva Bates ("Blue Pants" in NXT), and countless others all take part in the events and put on some amazing shows. If you're a fan of women's wrestling and the Knockout division or Divas division doesn't do it for you, then this would be the place to start. The things these women do in the ring are unlike anything we've seen before.

Other Independent Promotions
There are far too many to write about, but I'll give you a rundown of some of my favorites:
  • PWX Wrestling: A company I used to do work for, based in the North Carolina area, with some of the best talent on the entire circuit. Check their website out for ticket info and their Video on Demand features.
  • AIW (Wrestling): Based in Ohio, this company goes above and beyond to put on immaculate shows for their audience and I believe they also have great DVD production values as well.
  • Maryland Championship Wrestling: Based out of Maryland(as evidenced by the name), MCW has a massive following as every month they draw from 800-1300 people, which for an indie promotion, is amazing numbers. Check them out.

There are a lot more indie promotions out here, such as:
  • Wrestleforce in SC
  • Smash Wrestling in Canada
  • CZW in Philly
  • 2CW in NY
  • Promotions in Texas (including Booker T's ROW) 
  • And countless others. 
The purpose of this article is to just let most fans that WWE isn't the only show in town. They're just the most promoted. Sometimes, in the entertainment world, the best product doesn't always come from the biggest attraction, or the most popular. It can come from the smaller business who puts more effort into the show and creation as opposed to coasting by on name and money. Support Indie Wrestling. Support all wrestling. You have options. Use them.

-The Immortal 


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